The internet and social media seem to be at an all-time high in Pakistan, and the launch of food portals — offering new and convenient avenues of ordering food online in busy, bustling cities — are just another sign. Young entrepreneurs are taking the initiative and setting up their own websites, with the aim to provide easy access to food and beverages to people from their favourite restaurants in a more efficient way.
One such food portal is the newly launched www.click4ameal.pk, created by 20-year-old Fahad Nassr. Frustrated with waiting on the phone to place an order time and again, Nassr and his friends came up with the idea to develop a food portal which would give customers the luxury to place their orders online and receive it at their doorsteps without any hassle.
“Placing an order on our website takes only five minutes,” said Nassr, who also manages an online business development firm. “It’s convenient and saves time. You don’t have to wait on the phone or get in long queues to order,” he states.
The customers simply have to sign in with an email address, select the desired food from the list of restaurants and verify their delivery address — with no extra charges to place the order. Once an order is placed, Nassr and his friends get in touch with the restaurants though emails, text messages, or the phone and see them through.
The portal also aims to offer a wide range of restaurants and cafes not only from affluent areas but also roadside eateries. “The idea is to cover every area, and bring food places closer to people, in the easiest and most accessible way,” said 21-year-old Alishay Adnan, the marketing officer for the website.
In just a few days, click4ameal had around 6,000 hits and over 89 orders. It will offer a new restaurant every day till August 15, with the aim to cover 200 restaurants across the city in the near future. Eateries range from Pompei to Salman Pani Puri, with many others on their way soon. The food portal will also offer a section for reviews, blogs and recipes to promote discussion and gather feedback.
Samiya Ansari is a satisfied customer, who believes the website is efficient and effective. “Food is honestly a click away. I prefer online delivery because I hate the hassle of calling as either the phone is busy or they make you wait.”
Another such website, which allows people to place their orders online is www.urbanite.pk. Chief operating officer Zaigham Hidayatullah tells The Express Tribune that his website is a community portal, offering delivery of a wide range of goods, such as DVDs, books, flowers and more. However, it is food and beverages that are ordered the most.
“Food is big in Pakistan and we are happy with some healthy competition,” he states, referring to click4ameal. Urbanite lists 30 restaurants that offer food from scrumptious tikkahs to frozen yoghurt. Launched in May, the website has received over 2,000 orders. Currently, his website also displays Ramazan deals from different eateries across the city which he says are immensely popular at night time. For those restaurants that do not deliver, Urbanite charges Rs100 for their own riders to bring the food to your doorstep.
While click4ameal is paid Rs40 for every order placed at a specific restaurant, Urbanite has settled for a flat rate with restaurants that are on their website. The website is currently offering over 150 free tickets to a pre-screening of The Dark Knight Rises for a noon show on Sunday, August 13, to anyone who places an order of over Rs1,000 on their website by midnight on Saturday, August 12 — something they hope will generate more hits.
Additionally, for professionals caught up in busy work lives, these portals come as a blessing. Working for an event management company on Shahrah-e-Faisal, Faraz Shah says he finds the website extremely convenient. “With a busy schedule, I hardly have time to look up phone numbers and call up restaurants. With such websites, life is easy as food comes to your office conveniently, without calling or going someplace.”
His colleague Samreen further adds, “We get saved from the embarrassment of calling up restaurants, and making the operator understand for hours what our order is. Now we can do it silently without letting the whole world know what we are ordering.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2012.